04/16/2024
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By John Clark

BLADENBORO — West Bladen stayed with Fairmont for most of Friday night’s 2nd round NCHSAA Class 2A Basketball Playoff game, but when the Knights finally had to come out and chase, the Tornadoes made 13 of 23 free throws and 4 lay-ups to claim a 59-38 victory.

The Tornadoes improved to 21-5 and will travel to No. 6 seed Rocky Point Trask (24-4) Tuesday night. Trask advanced with a 70-67 victory over No. 11 Martin County. Coach Travis Pait’s Knights, the Southeastern Athletic Conference co-champions and tournament champions, completed their season with a 24-2 record.

Sophomore Tylik McCall sank 2 free throws to pull the Knights to within 34-30 with 7:18 left to play, but Landon Cummings follow shot and lay-ups by Issac McKellar and Ty’Rek Thompson pushed the Fairmont lead to 40-30 and put the Knights in the having to foul and chase mode.

Junior Hezekiah Adams tossed in 2 free throws and a lay-up. Junior Chase Williams netted a free throw and crammed in a dunk off a Jackson Pait assist. Freshman Kendell Lessane canned a free throw for the final West points.

The Tornadoes held a 34-25 advantage in rebounds and a 12-5 edge on the offensive boards. The Knights were 2-for-27 from outside the paint and shot 30 per cent for the games.

“They have 6-8, 6-5 and 6-5 inside so they are hard to rebound against,” noted Knight Coach Travis Pait. “Our style of play works better when we are playing from in front not chasing.”

Pait popped in a baseline 10-footer to start the game, Adams cashed in 2 free throws, and Williams turned an in-bounds play lob from senior Andre Moore into a 3-point play and a 7-2 Knight lead. McCall hit a free throw, but Cummings fired in a 3-pointer and a runner as Fairmont went up 9-8.

Williams worked the paint for 3 lay-ups and a free throw in the 2nd period – a Moore assist led to the 3-point play – and McCall drove for a lay-up. However Cummings and Xavier Johnson bombed in 3-pointers for Fairmont, Cummings popped in a 15-footer, and senior Gabriel Washington added a pair of baskets for a 21-17 Tornado halftime lead.

Williams added 2 lay-ups, a long jump-hook and a free throw in the 3rd period. Pait drove for a lay-up, and Adams knocked down a fade-away 10-footer. However Johnson drilled in another 3-ball, and Cummings and 6-8 Josiah Billings scored inside as Fairmont pushed the margin to 34-28.

Cummings topped the Fairmont scoring with 17 points. McKellar followed with 11 points, and Washington added 10. Johnson tallied 8 points.

Williams posted a double-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for the Knights. Adams finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds. McCall followed with 6 points and 3 assists. Moore dished out 3 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds.

Fairmont        9  12  13  25 — 59
West Bladen  8    9  11  10 — 38

Fairmont (59) — Gabriel Washington 10, Damajah McRae 3, Ty’Rek Thompson 2, Landon Cummings 17, Isaac McKellar 11, Naishon Davis 6, Xavier Johnson 8, Nasir Davis, Josiah Billings 2, Xavion Pittman, Kaiden Filmore, Caleb Daniels.

West Bladen (38) — Jackson Pait 4, Hezekiah Adams 7, Damarion Bryant, Tylik McCall 6, Kendell Lessane 1, Justin Spaulding, Andre Moore, Cornelius Esters, Donovan Tubbs, Ty’Leak Ballard, Chase Williams 20.

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